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The personal experience and account of
Bishop Hobbs

(Air Dept V2 Div)

About 2:30 a.m. on October 25, 1944, we found out that the Japanese fleet was about 300 miles from us. But, as I think back, I now know that they were closer than that. We had headed down for breakfast and never did get anything to eat; as they called us back to general quarters. Everything seemed to go so fast. The Japanese fleet looked like match heads in the distance, and they kept getting bigger all the time. They also continued to fire at us. When we were hit and told to abandon ship, I was so scared that I wasn't scared!

When I jumped from the ship, the current took us about 100 yards from the ship. The shipmate who jumped with me was Doc Butts or Butz, (I'm not sure how he spelled his last name). He was an instrument man. When I was able to get into the life raft, I did not know any of the other men. I found out later that Butts was in another raft, and I didn't see him until we got back on land. Several in the raft were wounded and we took turns hanging onto the sides of the raft. As I jumped off the ship I was hit by shrapnel. A shell from the Japanese killed several of my fellow shipmates, plus hitting and exploding a plane on the hangar deck. We got as many planes off the flight deck as we could when they were firing on us. I had seen several men laying on the catwalk either wounded or killed before I did abandon ship.

While in the life raft a Japanese cruiser went by about 100 yards away. I figured we'd get shot at, but they didn't bother us. They just went about their business, and for some reason or another, seemed to be in a hurry to get out of there.

Several of the men died on my raft, and we all prayed The Lord's Prayer and let them go into the ocean. We were very cold at night and hot in the daytime.

The second night we saw a ship in the distance, and didn't know if it was another Japanese ship or not. One of the rafts sent up some flares, and I don't think they were supposed to have; but it did attract the attention of the American ship. They put a searchlight on us, and asked if we were Americans. I think it was about 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning when I climbed out of the raft into the ships net. I was picked up by either a DE or PT boat. Once on the ship I felt weak. They gave us coffee and soup, but no water - and that's what I really wanted! We were given a meal the next day. While in Leyte Gulf a hospital ship came in and took me to an army hospital in New Guinea. I had shrapnel wounds on my back and arm. I didn't lose much blood; the wounds just seemed to burn a lot.

My activities on the ship included my work in the V2 - maintenance division down on the hangar deck. No one enjoyed being there, but it was something that had to be done. I also helped service the planes, and was in the catapult crew for a while. Pilgrim was in charge of the catapult crew. Walt Flanders was chief of the metal shop, and he seemed like a father to me as well as to a lot of the other shipmates. 

We did enjoy playing basketball on the hangar deck too, until shipmate Conklin got too hot and died, and that ended the games. 






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